Driving home, what Mary thought was a dead cat on the side of the road turned out to be a flattened birthday balloon with red metallic tendrils scattered about like entrails. Wiping tears from her eyes, she drove on, not looking in her rearview mirror, never once noticing the horizon over her left shoulder where wads of bruised clouds rolled in over Lake Michigan.
Turning down the dirt road, what she imagined was a cougar crouching in the field was, on second glance, a sandy-colored bush leaning forward in the wind. As she passed by the pine trees, what she assumed was the infamous Dog Man of Michigan turned out to be a black bear pillaging a farmer’s blueberry bushes.
Entering her cabin, what she expected to see was her empty rocking chair in the dark corner of the room, not a grizzled man who soon told her he’d hitchhiked downstate from the U.P. What she believed was a baby nestled in his lap turned out to be a sawed-off shotgun, and what seemed like a smile underneath his bushy mustache was really a sneer.
After tying her up to the rocking chair, the intruder noticed Mary’s dirty fingernails and asked where she’d been, and when she told him she’d been out working in a corn field, that she was an agronomist, what he thought she said was that she was an astrologist. As he loaded his gun, he asked if she might indulge him in predicting the future. Mary peered out the window at what she knew must be the moon, all hazy and pearlescent, but which was in fact Death, all puffed up and smiling down, promising something other than rain.